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Ariel Castro pleads guilty in Ohio kidnap case

  • Ariel Castro looks over at the prosecutors table during court proceedings Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

    Ariel Castro looks over at the prosecutors table during court proceedings Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

  • Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty listens to court proceedings in the plea agreement of Ariel Castro, Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

    Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty listens to court proceedings in the plea agreement of Ariel Castro, Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

  • Ariel Castro looks at the judge during court proceedings Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

    Ariel Castro looks at the judge during court proceedings Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

  • Ariel Castro enters the courtroom Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland.  Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

    Ariel Castro enters the courtroom Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

  • Ariel Castro enters the courtroom Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

    Ariel Castro enters the courtroom Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

  • After entering the courtroom, Ariel Castro, left, looks around Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

    After entering the courtroom, Ariel Castro, left, looks around Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

  • Ariel Castro looks over at the prosecutors table during court proceedings Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
  • Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty listens to court proceedings in the plea agreement of Ariel Castro, Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
  • Ariel Castro looks at the judge during court proceedings Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
  • Ariel Castro enters the courtroom Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland.  Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
  • Ariel Castro enters the courtroom Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
  • After entering the courtroom, Ariel Castro, left, looks around Friday, July 26, 2013, in Cleveland. Castro, who imprisoned three women in his home, subjecting them to a decade of rapes and beatings, pleaded guilty Friday to 937 counts in a deal to avoid the death penalty. In exchange, prosecutors recommended Castro be sentenced to life without parole plus 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

A Cleveland man accused of imprisoning three women in his home and subjecting them to rapes and beatings for a decade avoided the death penalty yesterday, pleading guilty in a deal that will keep him in prison for life.

“The captor is now the captive,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said of 53-year-old Ariel Castro.

The women’s escape from Castro’s home two months ago at first brought joy to the city where they had become household names after years of searches, publicity and vigils, then despair at revelations of their treatment.

Their rescue brought shocking allegations that Castro fathered a child with one of the women, induced five miscarriages in another by starving and punching her, and assaulted one with a vacuum cord around her neck when she tried to escape.

Castro told the judge he was addicted to pornography, had a “sexual problem” and had been a sexual abuse victim himself long ago.

He pleaded guilty to 937 counts in the deal, which sends him to prison for life without parole, plus 1,000 years. Prosecutors agreed to take a possible death penalty charge off the table.

Castro, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, was far more engaged than in previous court appearances when he mostly kept his head down and eyes closed. He answered the judge’s questions in a clear voice, saying he understood that he would never be released from prison and adding that he expected he was “going to get the book thrown at me.”

“I knew that when I first spoke to the FBI agent, when I first got arrested,” he said.

Castro, who was born in Puerto Rico, said he could read and understand English well but had trouble with comprehension.

At the end of the 2½-hour hearing, the judge accepted the plea and declared Castro guilty. Sentencing was set for Thursday.

The women said in a statement they were relieved by the conviction.

“They are satisfied by this resolution to the case, and are looking forward to having these legal proceedings draw to a final close in the near future,” said the statement released on their behalf.

Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old.

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